For as long as we've been snapping pics on the surface of Mars, we've been claiming to see anything and everything in its dusty, red terrain. Look at that blur; is that the silhouette of a lady Martian? A rogue military helmet from World War I? An actual human finger? Nope! It's a rock. It's always a rock.
All of these missed connections are due to a phenomenon known as pareidolia, which compels humans (or conspiracy theorist internet bloggers) to try to find some kind of meaning in the most random assortment of Martian shapes. Well, pareidolia and mild insanity. But god bless them for trying.
Here are all the absurd things we've found on Mars that no one's ever actually found.
This most recent Martian finding was picked out by a Maryland-based UFO hunter from Curiosity's endless stream of snapped images, writing "This little box sure does look like a modern coffin concrete liner." In actuality, though, it is a rock.
Spotted by British UFO enthusiast Joseph White, this traffic light-shaped object was originally snapped by Curiosity on Sept 19. It is, in fact, a rock.
This potential bit of leg skeleton, first identified by UFO-blogger.com, is also probably a rock.
Our eagle-eyed friend at UFO-Blogger also spotted this alien skull, which, as he points out, bears a striking resemblance to the skulls of the similarly not-real Nephilim. Unfortunately, this one is a rock.
Everyone loves a phresh hood ornament, even little robotic rovers. Unfortunately for our still-unadorned Curiosity, this particular ornament is, according to scientists, "a rock."
Back in 2008, the internet flipped its collective shit over the first sign of a real, live Martian mistress. But we must advise: Never send to know for whom the internet drools; it drools for thee(se rocks).
This bit of extraterrestrial artillery could be a sign of a coming interplanetary showdown. Instead, it is just a rock.
To say it's just a rock would be very closed minded to the evidence at hand. [N]ot only does it have a body, but look closely and you will see its lower neck skin, its mouth line, nostril hole and even an open eye with a large brow over it.
And yet, it is a rock.
This unlikely find was actually taken by NASA's Spirit rover a little under 10 years ago. You can tell because the President bears almost no grey hair in the photo. Also by the fact that it is a rock.
Illustration by Sam Woolley